Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Yule - Celebrating the Winter Solstice
Today is December 21st, and like many people from dozens of different spiritual paths, I am celebrating Yule. Yule is the Winter Solstice and it is a time for magick and celebration. This year, we had the added bonus of Yule falling on a full moon AND a lunar eclipse, so the energy was really flowing. The last time the winter soltice fell on a lunar eclipse was more than 400 years ago.
Yule is one of the oldest celebrations in the world. From Native Americans to Ancient Romans, Yule has been acknowledged as far back as history has been recorded. Gifts are exchanged and there is often a feast. So in many ways, its not that different from a Christmas party. We also honor our deities through rituals and offerings which can be as simple or elaborate as the practitioner likes.
Yule is the longest night and the shortest day of the year. But in the heart of this darkness, pagans everywhere find a reason to celebrate. Because soon the light will be returning, a little bit more each day. As the sunlight returns to the earth, the cycle of rebirth will begin. In many paths, this is represented by the Goddess bringing forth the God, who is symbolized by the sun.
Did you know that many of the traditions observed during Christmas actually derived from Yule? Take for example the wreath. Yule actually means "wheel". The wreath was originally made as a symbol of the wheel, using holly to represent the female and ivy to represent the male. The two entwined would of course be symbolic of life. Both ivy and holly were also wards against evil spirits. So by hanging it on the door, people believed they were protecting themselves. Today's Christmas wreath might be a little fancier, but this the history behind the tradition.